Tuesday, 23 June 2015

El Portalet, Formigel and track to Gabardito, Huesca Province.

Another day in the high mountains.
Granada Wildlife Pyrenees Tour Day Four.

I went for a short walk before breakfast up a small farm track to the rear of the hotel and found several nice spikes of Robust Marsh Orchids (Dactylorhiza elata) growing in a wet field and on to of a dry stone wall. Birds included Red Kite (Milano Real / Milvus milvus), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus). After breakfast we all headed out towards El Portalet pass over to France, on the way we had good numbers of Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans) and Red Kites
We drove up the road towards the pass seeing several spots on the way that we wanted to stop at on the way down but made one stop to have a look at a fine display of Broad-leaved Marsh  (Dactylorhiza majalis) and Robust Marsh Orchids (Dactylorhiza elata) on the side of the Barranco del Puertoand and in the same area we saw our first Clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne) along with Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Dipper (Mirlo Acuático / Cinclus cinclus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris).
We continued up to the pass and had a coffee just over the border in France, once we were back out of the Cafe we picked up Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and a nice male Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe).
We crossed back in to Spain and parked a couple of hundred meters back down the road and had a stroll up on to the hill along the roadside where we were soon finding new wildflower species including Centaurea montana, Alpine Bartsia (Bartsia alpina),  a Sempervivum species, Lamium species and a very nice red coloured Rose species still needing a name plus another Clouded Apollo. We dropped down around the back of this hill where Nick, Mike H and I were called over by the rest of the group to look at a fine male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis). From here we followed a small damp flush for a way up the back of the hill and along to a rocky outcrop, right at the start of the walk John and I had brief views of a Glandon Blue (Agriades glandon) but it was to quick for a shot and went through the nearby pig wire fence. We checked the area at the start of the flush where we had several Common Frogs (Rana temporaria) and a couple of Lizards which were probably Viviparous Lizard (Lacerta vivipara) due to the damp habitat. Slightly further up the stream we saw Globe Flower (Trollius europaeus), Alpine Bartsia, Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), Bird's-eye Primrose (Primula farinosa) and quite a few spikes of Fragrant (Gymnadenia conopsea) and Heath Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza maculata). At the upper part of flush we scanned a rocky crag and picked up a very nice male Ortolan Bunting (Escribano Hortolano / Emberiza hortulana) which was singing from the highest point. Below the crags we checked the pool formed by the flush and found the uncommon Pyrenean Frog (Rana pyrenaica), more Common Frogs, Large White (Pieris brassicae), Piedmont Ringlet (Erebia meolans), Large Wall Brown (Lasiommata maera), Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa), Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis), Pyrenean Cranesbill (Geranium pyrenaicum), Maiden Pink (Dianthus deltoides) and  Phyteuma spicatum subsp. pyrenaicum. On the way back down the flush we found a cracking male Purple-edged Copper (Lycaena hippothoe) which was slightly tatty but a welcome addition to the butterfly list and just as we were exiting the flush we found another male which was in cracking condition. 
In the same area we had the first Apollo (Apolo / Parnassius apollo), Green hellebore (Helleborus viridis), Alpine Chough (Chova Piquigualda / Pyrrhocorax graculus), Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta), Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and Alpine Marmot (Marmota marmota). We came back around the hill and walked back towards the van when we picked up another blue species of butterfly which this time turned out to be a nice male Escher's Blue (Agrodiaetus escheri) and back near the van we had a second male Ortolan singing, Yellowhammer (Escribano Cerillo / Emberiza citrinella) and Common Quail (Codorniz Común / Coturnix coturnix) wet my lipping from a grassy slope near by.
We all got in the van and we started the drop down the slope back towards Formigel making a stop at another wet flush on the way, after checking with a couple of chaps repairing the fence we entered the gate which took us out on to the grassy hillside where we searched for plants and butterflies.
On the flush near the road we saw Dingy (Erynnis tages) and Rosy Grizzled Skippers (Pyrgus onopordi), Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis) and a couple of smart looking Saxifarges which still need names. We walked up the track and out on to the grassland where we photographed the stunning Giant Yellow Gentian (Gentiana lutea) which was quite common in the area. At the same spot we saw Broad-leaved Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza majalis),  Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum), Mazarine Blue (Cyaniris semiargus), a male Common Wall Lizard, Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) and another calling Common Quail which Nick and Mick H saw in flight.
The morning had flown by and tums were rumbling so we dropped down to a large road side restaurant where we had some very nice rolls and tapas.
As we were heading back out to the van we scanned the gravel beds along the river and picked up a couple of Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Grey and White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus).
We again dropped just a couple of KM down the road to a spot near Formigel and parked on the roadside where we were told by an on site warden not to go on to the one side of the road which slightly confused me, I know why he made this request as there are a lot of the rare Lady's Slipper Orchids (Cypripedium calceolus) there. What confused me was that all the plants were quite obviously well over with as we could see them on the bank and back in May when I had been at the same spot when the plants were in perfect flower and there was no sign of a warden ????
Anyway we checked the damp areas and meadows on the side of the road where we were able to explore and soon found several spikes of Common Twayblade (Neottia ovata), Burnt (Neotinea Ustulata) and Pyramidal (Orquidea Pyramidal / Anacamptis pyramidalia), Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii), Bird's-eye PrimroseCommon Cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium), Chimney Sweeper Moth (Odezia atrata), a very smart Lesser Marbled Fritillary (Brenthis ino) which took a while to get shots of and then what should have been called a Camblewell Ugly as it was incredibly tatty Camberwell Beauty (Nymphalis antiopa). As we walked around the dryer parts of the area we had several Pearly Heaths (Coenonympha arcania), Meadow Fritillary (Mellicta parthenoides), Amanda's Blue (Polyommatus amandus), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea) and several Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris).
We dropped down the hill again and stopped to look at a very nice group of roadside Common Spotted, Greater Butterfly Orchids (Platanthera chlorantha), as well as a few more Common Twayblades, Common Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) along with Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala).
From here we headed back down the hill and through Jaca where we stopped at a supermarket for supplies before continuing back to the hotel where a couple of the group retired early leaving four of us to continue birding for another hour or two in the area around the start of the road up to Gabardito. On the grassy area near the start of the track we found Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), a nice male Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and a couple of Idas Blues (Plebejus idas). We walked along a river side track and came across a couple of small puddles on the track where we saw Adonis Blue (Niña Celeste / Lysandra bellargus), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus) and Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra). We walked along the track for quite a long way finding Martagon Lily (Lilium Martagon), Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne), Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychlorus) as well as Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Crested Tits (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus), Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Treecreeper (Agateador Norteño / Certhia familiaris), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), several Goldcrests (Reyezuelo Sencillo / Regulus regulus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Garden (Curruca Mosquitera / Sylvia borin) and Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli).
We walked back to the Van and made our way back to the hotel and ended a cracking day with a good meal and a drink.


Photographs from the top: Embalse de Lanuza, Purple-edged Copper (Lycaena hippothoe), Pyrenean Frog (Rana pyrenaica), Amanda's Blue (Polyommatus amandus) underwing, Amanda's Blue upperwing, Escher's Blue (Agrodiaetus escheri), Rosy Grizzled Skippers (Pyrgus onopordi), Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis), Giant Yellow Gentian (Gentiana lutea), Common Twayblade (Neottia ovata), Pearly Heath (Coenonympha arcania), the group in the hills, Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii), Martagon Lily (Lilium Martagon) and Adonis Blue (Niña Celeste / Lysandra bellargus).

1 comment:

Linda Fowler said...

More to read! Can't wait to get to Portalet area!